Team Medscheme, the most successful South African professional men’s road cycling team in 2009 and 2010, heads into 2011 with a new name, new look, new riders and new objectives.
Now known as Team Bonitas (Medscheme is an associated supplier to Bonitas, one of South Africa’s premier medical and health risk companies), the squad has been registered as a UCI Continental team, which means that it gains eligibility to internationally graded races around the world where its riders can earn important International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings points.
The team’s rider count has been increased from eight to 10 with the addition of some of South Africa’s brightest young talent, all handpicked by team owner and South African racing legend, Malcolm Lange.
ÔÇ£Essentially, we’ve taken the next logical step in making Team Bonitas an internationally registered team. We have shown we can be the dominant team in South African racing. And while we did some international races in the past two years ÔÇô and excelled in them ÔÇô we now get access to a wider range of higher profile international races,ÔÇØ explained Lange.
ÔÇ£Progression is important if South Africa is to become a contender for major international road cycling titles in the near future. Medscheme and our other sponsors share that vision and have been fantastic in supporting this progression.ÔÇØ
With over 400 race wins, Lange is South Africa’s most prolific modern era race-winner, first coming to prominence as a junior 20 years ago when he began upstaging seasoned professionals with his mercurial sprint. Now 37, he is likely to end his professional career in 2011 and focus his energy on building his team into an internationally respected outfit.
He points out that while there are lots of new elements to the team, the team’s views on anti-doping are unchanged.
ÔÇ£It’s quite a well-known fact that I returned from Europe in the mid 1990s because I chose to rather pursue a drug-free racing career based in South Africa. In the past few years doping in professional cycling has been increasingly exposed, which is encouraging because it’s forcing the sport to become cleaner. I’m determined to show with Team Bonitas that professional bicycle racing can be fulfilling and successful without the use of performance enhancing drugs,ÔÇØ said Lange.
Team Bonitas’s schedule of UCI-graded races for the first half of 2011 includes Tour of Mumbai and Tour of South Africa in February, Tour of Morocco in March, Tour of Thailand in April, Tour of Japan and An Post Ras (Ireland) in May and Fleche de Sud (Luxembourg) in June. More races are expected to be added to this roster.
Lange will captain the team and is joined by experienced teammates, Neil Macdonald and Waylon Woolcock. Johann Rabie and Luthando Kaka, newcomers in 2010, remain with the 2011 line-up, while the new young signings are Songezo Jim, Jason Bakke, Gawie Combrink and Tyler Day.
ÔÇ£We have some really promising young talent on the team and I look forward to helping guide and support these guys to become successful international riders. The team is obviously raring to get the racing season started (South Africa’s first major race is on Sunday, 30 January), and we are looking forward to making our presence felt on the international cycling scene this year,ÔÇØ said Lange.
To follow the progress of Team Bonitas, or for more information, visit www.teambonitas.co.za